Friday, March 11, 2011

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Artichoke's Heart

Rosemary Goode is a fat teenager. This is how she sees herself: self-defined by the word "fat." She is tired of being harassed by mean girls at school and by her own mother and aunt. She is also interested in a football player, himself a strapping hulk of a guy, but doesn't believe that anyone can be interested in her in the body she's got. Ill-advised as it may be, Rosemary begins drinking Pounds-Away (a fictionalized SimFast) instead of eating regular meals and begins exercising with the help of a skinny, gorgeous new friend, and soon starts to feel better about herself. Before she begins her diet plan, however, the cute guy actually notices her and eventually asks her out, which I appreciated-- it makes the book less "cause-and-effect." One of the novel's main plot points is when Rosemary's hyper-ambitious mother is diagnosed with cancer, which affects her mother's approach to life. I loved the book and the author's wry writing style. I didn't understand, however, the best friendship that developed between Rosemary and one of the prettiest, most popular girls at the school, and I also didn't understand the out-of-the-blue attraction that the cute guy showed for Rosemary. Maybe I'm cynical, or maybe I've been working in a high school for too long, but it seemed way too easy. At least they all could have gotten to know each other in youth group, or even been forced into being lab partners (why is this always how YA authors get two totally different characters together?). Artichoke's Heart is an important addition to the teen lit genre because of its "real girl" protagonist and because of its positive message about the importance of health and of a healthy body image. 3 out of 4 Bananas!

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